Meeting environmental commitments, inspiring green leaders

Students work in ISB's rooftop garden

By Nick Yates, ISB Communications

Published on Friday, May 12, 2023

The International School of Beijing (ISB) has published its third Sustainability Impact Report, an update on progress in becoming a greener organization and inspiring students to be environmental leaders.

ISB is a pioneer of sustainability in international schools. Four years ago, a long-term plan managing the school’s impact on people and the planet was drawn up in a process led by a dedicated sustainability manager on staff. With a lot of input from students and inspiration from organizations around the world including Harvard University and Unilever that have done likewise, ISB created a five-year roadmap with firm targets and commitments.

One of those commitments was to be open and transparent about progress made. Today, the school fulfills this promise once again with a Sustainability Impact Report covering the 2022 calendar year. (The first and second editions of the report can be found on the ISB website.)

20230512 Sustainability Report 2

ISB students planting a tree as a symbol of their commitment to combating climate change

The new Sustainability Impact Report makes clear the role of students in ISB’s sustainability efforts. The school has Strategic Focus Areas that include using ISB’s resources to empower learners to purpose and compassion. ISB students have integrity, strength of character, awareness of global issues, and the drive and skills to do something about these issues. Through the school’s sustainability programs, ISB students have chance in their classes and co-curricular activities to provide service to others and create a positive social impact.

There are many examples of this in the report, such as…

  • A highlight of last year was the construction of ISB’s rooftop garden, which was achieved in collaboration with Grade 11 students. This green space now hosts students of all ages for hands-on learning with a strong focus on sustainability.
  • The Global Citizenship unit for Grade 5 students encouraged these youngsters to reflect on actions that can harm the environment. The unit highlights the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • ISB students organized Earth Week – five days in April dedicated to cutting back on environmental impact and raising awareness of sustainability issues. Activities included cycling to school, promotion of plant-based food in the cafeterias, and dimming of lights in school corridors.

Other ISB sustainability successes in 2022 included…

  • The school installed more efficient LED lighting over its fields and stadiums. As well as using less energy, this significant upgrade also reduced light pollution affecting ecosystems and surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Sustainability themes were further integrated into the curriculum. Curriculum leaders helped create criteria to assess which subject areas and grade levels currently cover these topics in their lessons. This data will tell ISB where it can enhance instruction regarding sustainability.
  • The school cafeterias successfully incorporated more beans, grains, and vegetables into their menus without compromising on taste or students’ meal choices. ISB’s aim is to create more awareness of the environmental impact that some foods have.
  • ISB worked with Tsunami Sports to procure environmentally friendly athletic clothing for coaches and students.

Paola Alonso, ISB’s Sustainability Manager, said, “This report documents all the actions by the ISB community to make our school, Beijing, and the world a better, more sustainable place. I am very proud of all our efforts, especially those of our students, who have leapt at opportunities to make a difference at ISB. They are truly empowered with purpose and compassion. 

“Our Sustainability Roadmap 2025 was not just about inspiring our own community but also about inspiring others to create a better future for this generation and ones to come. It’s been very pleasing to be approached by schools interested in adopting similar practices. I hope we can continue spreading an interest in the well-being of people and the environment. The power for change is in our hands!”


This article is about one area in which ISB is using its resources to empower students to purpose and compassion, which is one of three main strategic focuses identified by the school. ISB news articles in 2022-2023 are all looking at aspects of ISB that are examples of the three areas. To find out more, click here.

ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.

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